How to Make Paper Dresses

Adrián González de la Peña/Demand Media

Things You'll Need

  • Packing paper
  • White glue
  • Salt
  • Scissors
  • Hole puncher
  • Lace
  • Paper fastener
  • Hot glue gun

In 1966 Scott Paper Co. advertised a disposable dress that would cost $1. It was a gimmick at first, but the company ended up selling 500,000 dresses in less than a year. Following this first success, many manufacturers started to produce dresses of their own that could be recycled. The next year, Mars Manufacturing Company of Asheville was at the top of the market, selling about 100,000 dresses a week. Ten years later, the paper dress fashion was obsolete until recently. Today, women want to learn how to design their own paper dress for parties. It is cheap, fun and fast to make.

Adrián González de la Peña/Demand Media

Make the bodice with papier-mâché. Roll a sheet of paper around your torso for protection and tape it in place tightly to embrace your shape. Use packing paper that comes in white sheets 24x36 inches. Prepare a solution made with equal parts water and white glue. Add 2 tablespoons of salt. Cut long strips of paper, dip them in the glue-water mixture and paste them around your torso, covering as much as your body as you wish and leaving your neck and part of your back uncovered. Use no more than four layers of paper. Cut along the back of the bodice with scissors after the corset has dried a few hours. Punch holes along both sides with a hole puncher. Lace the back to hold the corset in place. Let dry at least 24 hours.

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Stack three sheets of packing paper. Fold the paper in alternating opposite directions. It is a modified accordion pleat. All the pleats start at the same point on one side. The first fold over is 1 inch wide while the next fold under is 2 inches wide, and so on and so forth until you reach the end of the paper width. The pleat looks a little like a flat fan. Repeat the same operation 20 times.

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Punch a hole in the pointy side of three fans and put the holes on top of each other. Attach the fans together with a paper fastener. Do this a second time. Spread the fans in a circle and glue one set over the bodice using a glue gun. Glue the second set of fans underneath the first one to cover the thighs. Repeat the same on the back of the dress. Use the other fans to cover the rest of the dress. Trim the fans with scissors if necessary.


  • The twentieth century paper dresses were made using a Tyvek-type material, which was stronger than ordinary paper. You can use waxed paper to make your dress stronger and waterproof. You can use hot glue or rubber cement to glue the fans. You can stitch the papers together instead of gluing them or use fusible web and a hot iron. In order to waterproof your dress, you might want to try to lay clear contact paper on the sheet of paper before folding them.


  • You can use newspaper to make the dress, but keep in mind that newspaper leaves ink marks on your skin. Newspaper is hard to paint and is highly degradable. Paper also can get soggy or fall apart after just a few hours. Put a layer of coating to make the paper sturdier. Make sure not to glue anything over the opening on the back if you want to be able to wear this dress.